After weeks of shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli and Palestinian leaders met at the State Department last night—the beginning of the first Middle East peace talks since 2010.
"Many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders, as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional and symbolic issues," Secretary Kerry said, as he appointed former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk to lead the negotiations.
Ambassador Indyk expressed his optimism. "It’s been my conviction for 40 years that peace is possible," he told a crowd of reporters.
Over the weekend, the Israeli cabinet voted to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, fulfilling Palestinian obligations to resume the peace process. "There are moments in which tough decisions must be made for the good of the country," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "and this is one of those moments."
Both sides seem willing to negotiate, but with Syria in the midst of a bloody civil war and political turmoil in Egypt, will Middle East peace remain elusive?
Ambassador Dennis Ross served as a Middle East peace negotiator in the George H.W. Bush and Clinton Administrations. He is currently counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and he discusses the possibilities for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.